An investment consultant has filed a class action lawsuit against a New York hospital accusing it of price gouging and violating state law by billing him $24 for a single tablet of an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Laurence Paskowitz, 39, of New York filed a civil suit Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court charging that an itemized bill from the Hospital for Special Surgery, covering his six-day stay there for knee surgery in January 1996, included a $24 charge for one "acetaminophen 325 mg tablet."

But hospital spokesman Dick Auletta denied the accuracy of the allegations Friday, saying: "That charge was for 12 tablets. We do not charge $24 for one Tylenol."